LETTER TO MAYOR JACKSON: OPEN SUPERIOR AVENUE & REIMBURSE RTA FOR COSTS INCURRED IN PUBLIC SQUARE!

Submitted by Satinder P S Puri on Tue, 08/30/2016 - 23:15.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
LETTER TO CLEVELAND MAYOR JACKSON:

 

OPEN SUPERIOR AVENUE & REIMBURSE GCRTA (GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY) FOR COSTS INCURRED DURING RENOVATION & AFTER OFFICIAL OPENING OF PUBLIC SQUARE A.KA. JIMMY DIMORA PUBLIC SQUARE IN DOWNTOWN, CLEVELAND, OHIO!
 
 
 
The following letter was sent via e-mail to Mayor Jackson on August 14, 2016 with copies to Cleveland City Council members; Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Cuyahoga County Council members; GCRTA CEO & General Manager Joe Calabrese; Group Plan Commission; City Planning & Landmarks Commissions; Land Studio; James Corner Field Operations (Landscape Architect of the Renovated Public Square); Members of the media; and others.
 
Date: August 14, 2016


To: Mayor Frank G. Jackson


Re. OPEN SUPERIOR AVENUE & REIMBURSE RTA FOR COSTS INCURRED DURING RENOVATION OF PUBLIC SQUARE & AFTER OFFICIAL OPENING


Dear Mayor Jackson:


The recently completed Public Square, a bogus project, has been nicknamed the Jimmy Dimora Public Square because of corruption involved in the process.


There was nothing wrong with the historic 218-year old Public Square (opened in 1796 and that under went a senseless destruction starting in March 2015) that a little rehabilitation could not fix. There was no shortage of grass, flowers, elegant trees, granite benches, a fountain, a waterfall, and also a splash pool – see Reference No. 1.


The historic Public Square used to bustle with activity. For over 20 years the Cleveland Orchestra held their annual Independence Day concerts in historic Public Square. In 2004 – 80,000 people attended the concert. In 2012 – thousands attended Marine Week.


The main objective of the renovated Public Square is to help the rich and powerful who are expected to benefit from a rise in real estate values while the rest of us will get shortchanged. With billions invested downtown – the poverty rate in the 10-year period (2001-2010) climbed from 31 to 37%.


The renovated Public Square reflects the flawed vision of Mayor Jackson who in a 2011 interview said: “I want to see one big square”. According to the Traffic Consultant’s Report of 2012 -- see Reference No 2, the Mayor’s vision was not workable and his honor – instead of one big square had to settle for two rectangles – little knowing that the revised vision was not a workable one either. Both visions came with a heavy penalty on the cash-strapped RTA.


Estimated costs to RTA, according to the Traffic Consultant’s Report:
16-month construction: $3.5 million prorated from an annual cost of $2.6 million from full closure of Ontario Street and Superior Avenue.
Closure of Ontario Street: $1 million per year.
Closure of Superior Avenue: $1.6 million per year


The renovated Public Square officially opened on June 30, 2016 after a 16-month construction period when both Ontario Street and Superior Avenue were closed to vehicular traffic.


I have consistently opposed this bogus project first with the LEAVE PUBLIC SQUARE ALONE signs and now with WELCOME JIMMY DIMORA PUBLIC SQUARE signs. So far, since August 2014, there have been nearly 750 hours of demonstrations. This is the equivalent of walking over 2,200 miles carrying a sign.


The demonstrations continue unabated with the goal of educating the public about corruption in Cuyahoga County.


I was present at the opening ceremony where your honor posed with many happy Clevelanders.




As per the Traffic Consultant’s Report of 2012, the estimated cost to RTA (Regional Transit Authority) from delays caused during the 16-month construction period from full closure of both Ontario Street and Superior Avenue = $3.5 million prorated from an annual cost of $2.6 million.


The total cost of renovating Public Square is not the often-repeated figure of $50 million but $53.5 million because this figure also includes the estimated cost incurred by RTA during construction,


I requested information about the costs incurred by RTA during the 16-month construction period. I was informed by Joe Calabrese, RTA CEO & General Manager, on Dec. 15, 2015 -- that they did not keep separate tracks of the subject costs for the Public Square project but were aware that delays had occurred.
So the only figures that I have – and that everyone else has -- are from the Traffic Consultant’s Report.


Happy Marriage between Church and State:
 
Despite ten e-mails and two certified letters (see Reference No. 3) to your honor, there was no response to requests for information and answers to questions about the Public Square Project.


I also sought the intervention of the well-connected Senior Pastor of Old Stone Church with two e-mails and a certified letter – again there was no response. The Senior Pastor happens to live in a building facing the renovated Public Square and will benefit, as will his flock, from any rise in real estate values at the expense of the poor and working class people who ride the RTA and who will subsidize the bogus project with increased fares and reduced services.



All in the Family – No response from Cuyahoga County, Cleveland City Council, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, and The Plain Dealer:


County Executive Armond Budish, Cuyahoga County Council members, and Cleveland City Council members never responded to an e-mail requesting help to obtain information about the Public Square Project.


Joseph Marinucci, President & CEO, DCA (Downtown Cleveland Alliance) also never responded to two e-mails requesting his help to obtain information about the Public Square Project.


Steven Litt, Art and Architecture critic of The Plain Dealer in his post of June 24, 2016 (Landscape architect James Corner hopes his Public Square design promotes democracy, civic harmony) stated that the historic Square “looked tired and dowdy and unloved for decades before the renovation”. This is not correct based on my observations and the facts.


The historic Square used to bustle with activity. For over 20 years the Cleveland Orchestra held their annual Independence Day concerts in historic Public Square. In 2004 – 80,000 people attended the concert. In 2012 – thousands attended Marine Week. I am a retired Structural Engineer with experience in the design and rehabilitation of structures. I had invited Mr. Litt to take a tour with me of the historic Public Square to identify the deteriorated areas – unfortunately there was no response.


Again, according to the Traffic Consultant’s Report, the complete closure of Ontario Street is costing the RTA an estimated $1 million annually.


Superior Avenue was scheduled to open on August 1, 2016. However, you honor has held up the opening of Superior Avenue. We don’t know when, if at all, Superior Avenue will open to RTA traffic.


For every day Superior Avenue is remaining closed – it is costing the RTA an estimated $4,384 daily -- prorated from an annual estimated cost of $1.6 million as per the Traffic Consultant’s Report.


I have again requested Mr. Calabrese to provide me with actual Additional Operating Costs incurred after opening of the renovated Public Square.


Reimbursement to RTA:
 
On August 9, 2016 – I addressed the Cuyahoga County Council during the public session and urged the Council to keep Superior Avenue open and compensate the RTA for the construction costs and the cost for closing Ontario Street in the renovated Public Square.


I urge you to open Superior Avenue immediately to RTA bus traffic and reimburse the RTA for the following estimated costs as per the Traffic Consultant’s Report.


$3.5 million for 16-month construction period.
$1 million (annually) for closing Ontario Street permanently.
$4,384 for every day Superior Avenue was closed after the official opening on June 30, 2016.


Best regards.


Satinder P. S. Puri
Retd. Structural Engineer, Community Volunteer at preK-8 Riverside School
Facebook Group: ABC: All About Cleveland, Ohio,
Blog at REALNEO
(216) 251-3978
e-mail: spspuri9 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net




References:


1. Post on my blog at REALNEO “Senseless Destruction of 218-year old Public Square a.k.a. Jimmy Dimora Square in Cleveland, Ohio”


2. Traffic Consultant’s Report: “Public Square traffic study by Nelson Nygaard a strong first step toward a greener downtown by Cleveland's Group Plan Commission”, Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer, June 13, 2012.
3. Dates of ten e-mails to Mayor Jackson on which there was no response: August 24, 2014, September 14, 2014, October 19, 2014, November 28, 2014, December 29, 2014, February 9, 2015, February 15, 2015, February 20, 2015, February 25, 2015, and March 8, 2015.


Dates of two certified letters to Mayor Jackson on which there was no response: 12-30-14 and 03-02-15.






 

 

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